F1: Hungarian Grand Prix liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 26th, 2009

 
 

Well, we’ll all be sitting down to watch this race in a pretty sombre mood, with Felipe Massa in hospital suffering from an awful head injury after being hit by debris from Rubens Barrichello’s car in the second session of qualifying yesterday.

As we write, Ferrari has confirmed that his condition – serious but stable – has not changed overnight and he is due to receive further treatment this morning, with doctors seeming positive that he will soon be on his way to a full recovery. We’ll include any updates as we hear them.

On the track, Fernando Alonso has grabbed a surprise pole that was even more surprising as the live timing broke at the end of the race. The top 10 drivers were reduced to wandering around comparing their times like teenagers getting their GCSE results.

Jenson Button’s reaction, in particular, on learning Alonso’s pole-winning speed led to a hasty apology from the BBC who’d just broadcast his expletive live. But, joking aside, this kind of chaos is not really what you expect from top-flight motorsport, is it?

So, Alonso on pole thanks to running on fumes, followed by the Red Bulls then Lewis Hamilton’s KERS-equipped McLaren which must have had adaptations to allow it to cope with the thin air that high up the grid.

Row three consists of Williams’ Nico Rosberg and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, both of whom might well travel backwards during the race. Jense is all the way back on row four alongside Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, with a right old tankful of fuel, and says he’s quite happy to let the others slug it out then see what falls his way.

It is not thought that Ferrari will be running a second car in the race.

Poor old Rubens Barrichello, he’s already been involved in enough of this kind of thing to last most people a lifetime. We have a feeling he might not have the motivation to go on much beyond the end of this season, and for this race he is down in 13th.

The BMWs are near the back and Jaime Alguersuari (J-Alg for the purposes of Tweeting and liveblogging, or our fingers will wear out) only needs to keep his nose clean and finish the race to be counted a success.

And we’ll be liveblogging it all the way. Stick with us, watch the telemetry in the widget on the right by choosing menu/drivers — and don’t forget to keep refreshing to make sure you’re seeing the latest.

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Post-race: Coulthard admits to being a bit choked up at the sight of Lewis on the podium. Legard comments that Hamilton could be Button’s best friend for the rest of the season, if he has a decent car. However we feel obliged to admit that we feel the track has favoured the MP4-24. Button is being interviewed and he’s about as cheerful as his team-mate was last week.

Whitmarsh up on the podium to collect the constructors’ trophy but clearly Raikkonen has the top pick here since he gets his trophy off the iconic tenor Placido Domingo. Not that he’s likely to care all that much. Why have the celeb hand over the second-placed gong? Is Domingo a Ferrari fan? Podium celebration is a bit subdued, as you might expect.

The upshot of this is that Button is now roughly 20 points clear of Webber with Vettel in third. Pretty good damage limitation for Brawn GP. We now need to see what’s going to happen to Raikkonen. Nice little points haul for Rosberg and Kovalainen. Renault’s Flavio Briatore does not bother to stay until the end of the race, fuelling speculation that we have seen the last of Piquet for the time being. Whitmarsh’s first victory as team boss.

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Lap 70: Hamilton on his way to the chequered flag. The accursed MP4-24 didn’t go well at Monaco, but it has gone well at the very similar Hungaroring, alright. Order after him is Raikkonen, Webber, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Glock, Button (two points in seventh) Trulli gets last point, Nakajima who kept his head for ninth but could not break his duck, and Barrichello in tenth. Whitmarsh on the radio congratulating Hamilton on a flawless drive. Hamilton is whooping. Interesting that he says his car is nice to drive, and Button is wishing his to perdition. That’s a bit of a reversal.

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Lap 69: Brundle is saying his man of the match would be Glock, set to finish sixth. He’s caught up Kovalainen but won’t catch him.

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Lap 68: Last year Massa was leading this race with something like three laps to go, on for a certain win. Then his engine blew and Kovalainen inherited the win. A cautionary tale on not sneaking off for a cuppa. Webber is just 4.4 seconds down on Raikkonen with two laps left. Will he challenge? Or accept the situation he has, complete with stewards’ enquiry?

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Lap 67: Barrichello’s on-board camera shows him not having a lot of luck in challenging Nakajima.

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Lap 66: As you were, chaps.

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Lap 65: Hamilton 16 seconds clear of Raikkonen and four-and-a-bit laps away from his (and KERS’) first victory of the season.

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Lap 64: Barrichello can’t get past Nakajima on pace, but may be able to force the somewhat accident-prone Williams driver into a mistake. It’s quite a long-shot, cheap cracks aside.

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Lap 63: Webber’s put his foot down behind Raikkonen and Raikkonen has put his foot down in response. Hamilton serenely untroubled at the front.

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Lap 62: Button currently on for two points to Webber’s six or eight (depending on whether Raikkonen gets penalised). Button will carry a double-digit lead out of this race.

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Lap 61: Barrichello currently in 10th and looking to threaten Nakajima and Trulli. He’ll have to get past both to get a single point. Nakajima challenging to score his first point of the season. This really could get quite messy, couldn’t it?

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Lap 60: 10 laps to go after this one. Finally Glock pits. Splash and dash, five-second stop, his stint on the difficult harder tyres. Everything depends on where he comes out in relation to Button. He’s sixth – so Button does not pick up a point from him. Commentators pointing out that the last two world championships have come down to a single point.

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Lap 59: Glock goes past the pit entrance yet again. He seems to have found a bit of speed from somewhere and is hassling Raikkonen. Button has reportedly got himself past Trulli. Order is Ham, Rai, Glo, Web, Ros, Kov, But, Tru, Nak, Bar, Hei, Piq, Kub, Fisi, Alg, Bue.

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Lap 58: Webber is 8.9 seconds behind Raikkonen and going nice and fast. If he gets a post-race penalty then Webber’s up to second and eight points, thank you very much. Barrichello pits, which we weren’t expecting. Hmmm.

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Lap 57: Expert opinion says that Glock’s single 7.7 stop cannot possibly have seen him being fuelled to the end. However, he does not stop. Nakajima pits, coming out tenth, leaving Button ninth and Barrichello eighth.

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Lap 56: Trouble-free pitstop for Jenson Button who comes out in tenth behind Rubens Barrichello. He has a couple of people still to stop in front of him – but they don’t include Rubinho.

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Lap 55: Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 17 seconds with 16 laps to go. Webber is third, that’s six points for him, putting him on 50.5 points as compared to Jenson Button’s 69 – if the latter takes a single point in eighth, that is. Hamilton on the radio worrying about in-car data, being reassured by team.

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Lap 54: Good news about Massa, who has been woken for a short time and reacted well to seeing his family, before being sedated again. Could Glock be on a one-stopper? If so, then he’s on for a podium…

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Lap 53: McLaren reporting problems with front brake temperatures for Kovalainen, which is being dealt with by him changing settings. If Hamilton does win, he will be the first to do so with KERS attached.

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Lap 51: Webber makes his crucial pitstop. 7.4 seconds, trouble-free stop. Out ahead of Nico Rosberg which means his podium is assured and he is suddenly looking an excellent bet for world champion. How things do change from race to race. Glock currently third, out of position.

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Lap 50: Rosberg out faultlessly and comes out fifth. Everyone on tenterhooks for Webber’s pitstop.

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Lap 49: Fairly close and processional up at the front right now. Order is Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg line astern with the latter two due to pit. And indeed Rosberg pits.

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Lap 48: Talking to Lee McKenzie, Vettel is squarely blaming Raikkonen for his suspension problem.

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Lap 47: Order is Ham, Web, Ros, Rai, Glo, Kov, Tru, But, Piq, Nak, Hei, Kub, Bar, Fisi, Alg, Bue.

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Lap 46: Hamilton pits in 8.3 seconds. He comes out in the lead, in clear air. McLaren fans now entitled to start believing it may just be his race.

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Lap 45: Raikkonen pits from second place and has trouble with gear selection, meaning his pitstop was 11 seconds. He comes out in fourth.

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Lap 44: Hamilton’s lead over Raikkonen is nearly eight seconds. Kovalainen pits from fourth and gets the harder tyres. He comes out sixth between Glock and Trulli.

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Lap 43: Ted Kravitz reporting that tyre wear is bringing the car back into the kind of window that Button likes and the performance is coming back. But Webber has dealt with the problem harder tyres and his main rivals – like Hamilton and Raikkonen – haven’t. And Raikkonen still facing a post-race investigation.

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Lap 42: Webber’s being instructed to put in some fast laps and try to avoid being stuck behind Hamilton and his heavy fuel load after his pitstop. Kovy, hassling Webber, narrowly avoids running wide.

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Lap 41: Button’s chances of even taking home a point are not yet secure. He’s 3.7 seconds behind Trulli and 10 seconds in front of Glock. Commentators mentioning that Piquet is certainly motivated to score a point or two.

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Lap 40: Buemi appears to have pitted after that little off. For some incomprehensible reason the cameras are showing Ecclestone signing autographs for a small boy – the only person in the paddock he has to bend down to talk to.

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Lap 39: Aaaannnnd… off goes Buemi into the gravel. Not a big incident, he’s able to get the car turned round and back on track but that may mean that J-Alg isn’t last.

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Lap 38: We’ve got to that processional bit in the middle of the race when it all goes quiet and we think about putting the kettle on shortly before there is some kind of big incident…

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Lap 37: Camera is on Hamilton’s car – in its own little patch of tarmac, no-one else in sight. Quite like old times, this. He’s lapping in the 1:22s. Order suggests that Barrichello has finally pitted.

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Lap 36: Kovalainen is currently on super-soft and Webber in front of him struggling on harder tyres. 18 seconds off the lead.

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Lap 35: The Toyotas have gained places by running long. Barrichello hasn’t stopped yet so must be one-stopping. What can he do in the salvaging-something stakes? Raikkonen just took eight-tenths out of Hamilton, so much for his tyres falling off. Halfway stage of the race.

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Lap 34: Order is Ham, Rai, Web, Kov, Ros, Bar, Glo, Tru, But, Piq, Nak, Hei, Kub, Bue, Fisi, Alg. Retired are Sutil, Alonso and Vettel We learn that it was actually Vettel’s front suspension that was broken. Red Bull pinning its hopes now on Raikkonen’s tyres going off.

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Lap: Glock has pitted and come out in seventh, in front of Button, which the Englishman will probably not consider to be particularly helpful.

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Lap 32: Kovy giving Webber a hard time from fourth. Come on, Heikki! Do Brawn GP a favour…

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Lap 31: Button on the radio complaining about oversteer. “How, HOW can this car be so bad at the moment?” Commentators speculate that he doesn’t know Vettel has quit – but, as we said, Webber.

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Lap 30: Fisi pits, which will help Button. Vettel is running in 17th and has just headed into the pitlane to retire. That’s dealt with half of Button’s problems – but only half of them, since Webber is running serenely in third.

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Lap 29: Vettel’s unscheduled pitstop has caused Raikkonen to be promoted to second. Trulli pits and comes out in eighth, behind Barrichello and in front of Button. J-Alg makes a decent fist of his first pitstop and his mum is applauding. She looks scarily youthful.

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Lap 28: Vettel: “Something is broken, something is broken. I can’t control the car any more.” This is like the Keystone bloody cops. All we want to see as a result of this is Vettel parked up safely, thanks. No more dramas. Vettel pits and his team changes all the consumable bits while people peer at the rear suspension. The car is going again but the unscheduled pitstop must have ruined his race, surely? Trulli pits from second.

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Lap 27: Button is stuck behind two long-fuelled slow cars – Barrichello and Fisichella. J-Alg is holding his own in twelfth.

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Lap 26: Button looks to have gone for super-softs. 8.7 second stop and comes out into horrible traffic in twelfth. He’s just been taken by a long-fuelled Fisichella. Not good. The only winner here is McLaren. The only cars at the front of the field now who haven’t stopped are the Toyotas.

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Lap 25: Hamilton leads from Button and Trulli, who haven’t stopped. Button pits and is asked what tyres he wants to use.

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Lap 24: Piquet successfully defends his place against Nakajima on cold tyres.

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Lap 23: Button second on the track and has a chance to make up some places. Hamilton being told he has 15 secs on Webber and Raikkonen and must drive carefully on his tyres.

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Lap 22: Vettel also has a poor pitstop. Coming out side by side with Buemi and doesn’t have much trouble taking the place :D Nakajima pits.

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Lap 21: Trulli has taken Mark Webber while his tyre temperatures are still low. Hamilton pits. Rosberg pits and comes out in 10th, in front of Webber. In turn Webber takes him while his tyres are still cold. Speculation that Red Bull will soon be under investigation for an unsafe release. Vettel and Kovy pit.

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Lap 20: Raikkonen pits, in for his first stop. On Twitter James Allen says the Brawn pace is not there today, despite the major tech upgrade. Webber also pits. His pitstop has been utterly messed up! He runs into the path of Raikkonen as a result of lollipop confusion and they miss hitting by inches. Webber has to give up the place. Raikkonen back on track ahead of him.

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Lap 19: Jenson Button is remarkably quiet. Let’s hope Ross Brawn is playing the long game. Alonso has retired and is walking back to the pits. Hamilton is 5 secs clear of Webber.

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Lap 17: Hamilton said to be coming in during the next two to three laps. Wonder what the implications of that utter Renault fuck-up and consequent Alonso performance are for Piquet?

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Lap 16: Hamilton leads from Webber and Raikkonen and has just put in a fastest lap. Then comes Rosberg, Kovalainen, Vettel, Button, Nakajima, Trulli, Piquet, Glock, Kubica, Heidfeld, Buemi, Barrichello, Fisichella, Alguersuari, Alonso.

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Lap 15: Alonso has rejoined the field effectively at the back, in that he comes out in front of Hamilton and has to let people lap him.

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Lap 14: Alonso trying to drive back to the pits on three wheels. Hamilton leads the field. Going cold at the sight of that bouncing wheel.

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Lap 13: Alonso’s lead is 0.8 secs. He pits, 6.4 sec stop, comes out ahead of team-mate Piquet. This shows how quickly the supersofts are going off. Also there’s been an error in the pitstop and something is wrong with the spinner on his front right wheel. It’s flown off, carbon fibre all over the racing line. Alonso trolling round off the racing line. Race wrecked. The bloody wheel comes off! Bouncing harmlessly into the undergrowth, thank Christ.

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Lap 12: Button more than 15 seconds down on Alonso. Raikkonen due to be investigated after the race for his start.

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Lap 11: Hamilton no longer catching Alonso because he’s now in the Spaniard’s dirty air. The rest of the field is coming up behind them as a result.

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Lap 10: Renault have got problems with tyre degradation and fuelling, garage on the radio to Alonso.

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Lap 9: Vettel is being told to save fuel in order to take Kovy in the pitstops. Kovy is backing them up and Vettel has a problem overtaking a KERS car on this circuit, so not much choice.

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Lap 8: Is Hamilton being reckless with his tyres, in contrast to Webber? Brundle speculates that he might be. However the team is egging him on to continue catching Alonso. This is retro F1, this splendid, aggressive Hamilton-Alonso battle!

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Lap 7: Hamilton taking half a second a lap out of Alonso. Jenson Button’s sitting quietly in eighth place, but very heavily fuelled.

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Lap 6: Hamilton half a second faster than lightly-fuelled Alonso on that lap despite having to find time for an overtake. Is he on fumes, or just blindingly fast? Apparently he’s fast. Alonso being warned by his team about his speed.

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Lap 5: Hamilton takes Webber after a right old battle. Now he’s setting off down the road after Alonso. Button must be wreathed in smiles. Applause in the McLaren garage.

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Lap 4: Alonso, with his light car, has a 2.3 second lead. Hamilton right on the back of Webber. Sutil has been forced to retire with a water pressure problem – they’re trying to fix it still, but don’t hold out hopes.

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Lap 3: Replays showing the spectacular effects of Hamilton’s KERS. He’s saved a bit of its power to help him on the straight section between turns one and two.

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Lap 2: Vettel reporting possible front-wing damage. Button makes banzai dive around Nakajima and goes right round him. Nakajima sensibly doesn’t fight it. Sutil already in the pits. Kovalainen is backing up Vettel and Button.

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Lap 1: Webber makes a charge, as does Rosberg, but Alonso holds them off. Four cars going wide at the first corner in the battle for second place. Fantastic start from Raikkonen who hits Hamilton and sends him into Vettel. The German down to seventh. Top five is Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg. Then Kovy, Vettel, Nakajima, Button and Trulli.

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Parade lap: Everyone is safely away. Ferrari is only running the one car, everyone behind 10th place has been moved up a slot.

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Grid walk: DC is saying that, from the Red Bull point of view, J-Alg is thought to have acquitted himself very well yesterday. Of course, should he fall foul of anything (which we really hope he doesn’t) then DC is in the car. Once again when asked to pick a winner he selects the home side. EJ’s backing Hamilton.

Whitmarsh cautiously optimistic – and indicates that Hamilton has been warned not to toss it all up in the air with a banzai start. Points out that both McLarens are on the dirty side of the track.

EJ to Bernie: “Do you remember me?” Much jocular humour. On a serious note, Flavio Briatore refuses to confirm who is driving for him next year, saying: “Race by race.” Good to hear BBC people asking decent questions.

Button: “If Lewis wins, good luck to him, I hope he does.” He’s doubtful Alonso will still be at the front by the end of the race. Mark Webber confirms that he’s looking to win, hoping for a good start, and doubtful that much strategy can be applied to Hamilton thanks to his KERS button. “The Williams is no slouch off the line,” he says, “it’ll be a very aggressive run down to Turn 1.”

Brundle tracks down Button and informs him that his championship is at risk. Button takes this well but isn’t perhaps quite as relaxed as he has been on previous grid walks (though he still sounds like he’s coming down with something). He confirms he wants to see Hamilton beat the Red Bulls off the mark and Alonso to take points off them. He has the option of starting on new tyres, the only one in the top 10 to do so.

Today Eddie Jordan is along for the ride in a shiny blue and rather tight shirt that belies the seriousness of the conversation he is having. He’s saying you have to take the practical view and just put the details of yesterday’s accident and concern about Massa out of your mind. Brundle is pointing out that drivers in 1994 Imola race were not told what had happened to Senna.

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Pre-race: Lewis Hamilton says he’s aiming for at least a top-five finish. This is Renault’s first pole position since China 2006 and Pat Symonds reveals the team knew it had done well, with an aggressive strategy, but were taken by surprise with exactly how well. Has trouble making eye contact with Jake Humphrey when asked about Nelson Piquet’s future.

BBC reports on planned investigation into yesterday’s accident here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8169206.stm

Joe Saward gives nuanced view of Massa’s condition here: http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/massa-update/

Ross Brawn and Martin Whitmarsh give a series of good, balanced views on the safety situation in Autosport. Whitmarsh says: “Sometimes we give them a hard time if we don’t think they are pushing hard enough, but in fact they’re incredibly brave. In Formula 1 we’ve perhaps concentrated too much on politics. We’ve got to get back to the championship, the fight, the show and safety.” Full piece here: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/77307

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